May 22, 2009

Biel: Being American a ‘Virtue’ on film

Jessica Biel says being one of the only Americans on the British set of Easy Virtue helped her relate to her fish-out-of-water character Larita.

In the big-screen adaptation of Noel Coward's 1920s-era stage comedy, Biel portrays a U.S. race car driver who marries an aristocratic Brit, played by Ben Barnes, much to the chagrin of his haughty mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, and to the amusement of his reserved father, played by Colin Firth.

Asked if being an American amidst a largely English cast and crew was helpful when it came to getting into her character, Biel told United Press International in New York recently, Yeah, it was.

Culturally, it wasn't all that much of a shock, she explained. Even though sometimes I'd play it up because people like to hear that, but it was different. It's different being out of your own country. Everything's just a little bit off, which I think is kind of fun. I enjoy that. It keeps you on your toes and makes you a little uncomfortable; you're out of your comfort zone.

Biel, who is frequently cast in contemporary Hollywood movies, went on to say she is a big fan of period films in general and British films in particular.

Most British films, I'm really into, she said. I love their wit and their humor. There's usually a different tone than in an American film. I like period (films.)

Easy Virtue is in theaters now.